Thursday, April 19, 2018

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstar with Carleigh Williams...


I love meeting new people who are spreading the compassionate living message in a fun and engaging way so it was my pleasure to meet Carleigh Williams of The Vegan Clubhouse when she was tabling at Indy VegFest. The Vegan Clubhouse, which you can also find on YouTube and Instagram, provides a fun, informative and welcoming platform and as well as helpful resources for those who are exploring veganism. Please check out and share what Carleigh and The Vegan Clubhouse have to offer! I am honored to feature Carleigh as this week’s Vegan Rock Star. 

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?

I always loved animals, but I also definitely used the whole “we need it to be healthy” justification to continue eating them. I was definitely addicted to cheese & thought that people who were vegan had gone too far & were just extreme. I worked in the health field & was given the book Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard. After reading that I was blown away. Everything I had known about nutrition & preventing disease, was wrong. At that point I started to do more research. I watched tons of nutrition videos & slowly allowed myself to watch videos about animal rights. Once I watched “the best speech you’ll ever hear” by Gary Yourofsky, I was determined to go vegan. Unfortunately, I was so addicted to cheese that I immediately started going through withdrawal. I added cheese back into my diet for about 6 weeks while I weaned off it. I realized that I would be more successful working with my body, just a little, than forcing it. I wish I could have gone overnight, but I’m so glad I made it to fully vegan!

2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?

The tools that I use the most now & that I think would have been the most effective on me would be to show me that I can live the same life I already live, just vegan. There are so many alternatives now & it really comes down to, why not? Why not try it? Had someone suggested it and offered to show me alternatives to all the things I loved & just asked me to try it and see how I liked it, I would have done it. I also never met a vegan before I went vegan--so I think knowing some vegans and their ability to show me how exciting living vegan was would have intrigued me. So, make yourself known as a vegan & show people how awesome it is!

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

I find the best way to spread the message is to live as an example. I don’t keep it secret that I’m vegan, but I also don’t tell everyone everything about what they’re eating & supporting. I make it clear what I do and don’t support & that it’s not a temporary thing for me. I also try to be a patient with people around me as I can. I will answer any question they have, even if I’ve answered it 100 times before. I want them to have a good first impression with veganism. I think there’s such a negative stigma & stereotype with veganism that if we can start to shift that, it will make all the difference in the world.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

I think the biggest strength is that veganism is a win-win-win. There’s really no downside to it other than discomfort & inconvenience. & those are tiny downsides compared to the upsides. Veganism is beneficial for everyone. For the animals, the planet, the starving children, our own health. I think people are seeing more and more information about how it’s beneficial in all these other ways and that strengthens their resolve to go for it.

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

I think the biggest hurdle for the vegan movement is fear. People are afraid of how it’s going to flip their lives. They’re going to lose their friends, they’re going to live a life of tofu & salad, they’re going to be unhealthy, they aren’t going to be able to be social. And that’s just not true. Veganism will completely change your life, but in amazing ways.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.

“Why not?” if someone asked me why I was vegan, I’d ask why wouldn’t I be vegan? I can live a life that’s not only completely full, but it makes a difference. I’m able to save animals every single day, decrease my carbon footprint, help world hunger, take care of myself, & put compassion out into the world on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t I do that?

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

Gary Yourofsky was definitely the trigger to make me decide to go vegan. Some of my favorite resources that I would highly recommend are:
Main Street Vegan Book
ChickPeeps Podcast
Ellen Fisher on YouTube
Earthling Ed on YouTube
& so many yummy food blogs including:

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

I have always been a pretty positive person. I’m able to focus most of the time on how amazing it is that we are constantly moving forward. Whenever I start to get frustrated, I see if I can use that situation to inspire anyone else. Can I make a video around that topic to answer the questions of other vegans? Can I answer their questions patiently to inspire someone else in the room & when I’m really burned out about it, I just go hide out with my cats and disconnect from the Internet. Honestly, I don’t follow very many non-vegan people anymore online & that really helps too.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

I’m constantly amazed by how much veganism and zero waste are intertwined. Animals are dying, their habitats are being destroyed by our consumerism & plastic use. I really encourage people to look at the waste they are putting out into the world & see if they can cut it back, find a more sustainable way to live that helps the animals & planet from another angle.

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”

To me, being vegan is the ultimate expression of love & kindness. It’s putting positive vibes & compassion out into the world with every bite, purchase, & decision I make. Quick note: Every person featured in our 10 Questions series has come to their veganism from different backgrounds, with different approaches and inspired by different people. The responses to the questions in our interviews are the opinions of the interviewee, not necessarily shared by myself or

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

10 Questions: Vegan Foodie with Sarah Woodcock of Trio Plant-based...

One of the brightest lights in the messy morass that is oftentimes social media, Sarah Woodcock is not only a tireless vegan advocate but also adds a vital and distinctive voice that draws attention to the need for racial justice, feminism and a holistic, pro-intersectional approach to the vegan movement. As someone who became inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and fighting against injustice (you can read more of her inspiring story here), Sarah, along with her partners Louis Hunter and Dan Woodcock, will be bringing a unique vegan restaurant to Minneapolis - the first of its kind that is primarily owned by people of color - with Trio Plant-Based, serving their commitment to anti-oppression activism along with fabulous plant-based comfort food, already showcased in three successful pop-ups. With a newly launched Kickstarter (please share and donate if you are able!), Sarah and company have their sights set on opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Minneapolis as soon as possible. I am so excited for Trio Plant-based and to have a new place to check out the next time we are in Minnesota. I am honored to feature Sarah as this week’s Vegan Foodie.

1. How did you start down this path of creating delicious food? Was a love for food nurtured into you? Did you have any special relatives or mentors who helped to instill this passion?

My mom is an excellent cook with a real passion for cooking. Growing up, she was always cooking for the family, and she definitely instilled the love of cooking in me. I would often get inspired, as a child, to bake bread or cook meals. And just so you know, I never added Cherry Coke™ to a bread recipe that called for soda (i.e. baking soda).

2. What was your diet like when you were growing up? Did you have any favorite meals or meal traditions? Do you carry them over today?

My diet was a Midwestern meat and potatoes diet. But come to think of it, I do recall a family vacation to Maine where we ordered clam chowder, and I exclaimed, “There are animals in my soup!” I could not finish it.

3. It’s late at night and you just got home: What is your favorite quick and simple vegan meal?

I love cooking up a Gardein™ Beefless Burger on a Pretzilla bun with Vegenaise and ketchup! Yummm!

4. If you could prepare one meal or dessert for anyone living or dead, who would it be for and what would you create?

If I have to pick just one person, I would make a meal for my husband Dan…probably vegan eggs benedict because that was his favorite nonvegan breakfast! You have inspired me; I will make that for him now.

5. What do you think are common mistakes in vegan cooking and how do you avoid them?

I really enjoy getting what I cook to match the nonvegan version as much as possible. Not getting it to match is not a “mistake,” but I am not satisfied unless it is similar or as delicious, and it ought to be more delicious!

6. What ingredients are you especially excited about at the moment? Also, what ingredients do you always like to have on hand?

Kala namak salt (i.e. black salt) is magical for eggs! Purely magical. And I always have garlic and onion on hand!

7. What are your top three cuisines from around the world?

I love US American food and Italian food, and third place is shared by Thai and Korean food!

8. Who or what has been most influential to you on your vegan path? Individuals, groups, books, films, etc. included.

It has not been one person or group or thing. It has truly been the individual vegans who I have observed, supported, and been supported by who have been most influential to me. A special mention to my dear friend Rhonda Anderson, who has been there for me inside and outside the vegan movement. I would not be who I am today without her loving friendship.

9. What issue is nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like people to know more about?

Oppression. I know that is really broad, but our world would be a hugely better place if people gained a better understanding of the power dynamics of oppression especially as they play out with racism. People really do not get it. I recommend the powerful and groundbreaking anti-racism work of Catrice Jackson for those who are sincere in wanting to start getting it. I know vegans really want to just focus on animals, but they fail to realize animals will never be free if we do not unite with our fellow humans. And uniting with our fellow humans means supporting, truly supporting, those who are oppressed by racism.

10. Last, please finish this sentence. "To me, vegan food is…"

…so good for animals; it can have benefits for human health and is less harmful than nonvegan food from an environmental perspective.